Head of Roses: Phantom Limb

Flock of Dimes

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Head of Roses: Phantom Limb Review

by Timothy Monger

Released as something of a companion album to 2021's Head of Roses, Phantom Limb is a collection of outtakes, unreleased songs, covers, and live cuts from Jenn Wasner's Flock of Dimes solo project. While the unburdening of one's vaults has become a widely embraced tradition among artists of the COVID-19 pandemic era, this set comes as a bit of a surprise given the relative brevity of Flock of Dimes' career output. So far, there have been just two full-length albums -- 2016's If You See Me, Say Yes and the aforementioned Head of Roses -- padded by an EP and a handful of singles. Even more intriguing is that almost all of the material featured here was made over the previous two years. Among the apparent heaps of quality tracks Wasner had lying around are the fluttering "Go with Good" and the washed-out "Wonder," two outtakes from Head of Roses that are quite pretty and laced with Flock of Dimes' otherworldly strangeness. There are live tracks that sparkle (the nimble full-band version of "Two" recorded at Durham staple Betty's) and haunt (a KEXP solo performance of the lonesome "Hard Way"). Hearing Wasner tackle Joni Mitchell's Hejira standout "Amelia" feels like a natural fit, though her version of Joan Armatrading's ballad "The Weakness in Me" is a little more revealing. Another strong female artist known for her multi-instrumentalism as much as her songwriting, it makes a lot of sense that Wasner would consider Armatrading an influence. Like most odds-and-sods collections, Phantom Limb plays like a compilation more than an album, though it manages to satisfy on multiple levels, offering fans a deeper look at Wasner as a performer, interpreter, and songwriter.

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